Andrea: This one goes out to all the ladies out there…

I think it goes without saying that I’ve never been a man. I may have the body of a boy, but I have no clue what it’s like to be a man. That being said, I say with 100% confidence that when it comes to the way a body functions, men have it easy. Well, aside from the spontaneous, inopportune woody, but I digress.

As I sit here typing this, I’m really not liking being a woman. Why? Because of this:

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(Happy 50th Birthday, you little fuckers!)

I stopped taking the Pill a year ago this month. But, a week ago, my doctor asked me to go back on it for one cycle. In that week, I’ve gained 5 pounds, gotten four new zits, and my boobs have doubled in size. That would normally be a good thing, but I literally can not walk down the stairs without pain shooting through my jiggly bits.

This past year, being off the Pill, has been wonderful. No more mood swings, excessive bloating, acne scars, and even better – my sex drive was back! I was on the Pill for 10 years – eight years without a single side effect, and then the last two in total misery. It finally got to the point where I was letting my “off week” turn into “off 2-3 weeks” and I physically couldn’t bring myself to swallow them anymore. I finally said “enough is enough” and told my husband I wasn’t going to subject myself to this anymore. Thankfully, he was very supportive about that decision.

Without our “safety net” of the Pill, my husband and I had to decide what to do about birth control – we’re close to wanting to start a family, but not there yet. For various reasons, we ultimately decided on condoms. I know, right? Ugh. I mean, half the reason I’m in a monogamous relationship is so that I don’t have to use those damn things!

After six months of tolerating them, I heard about this book:

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Thank you, Gina!

I had already heard about natural family planning before. I even have a close (Catholic) friend who practices the Creighton Method. I just didn’t know there was a secular book out there that I could buy at my local bookstore to teach me about it! With Gina’s high praise for this book, I ran to my local Barnes & Noble to check it out for myself. I remember the day I got it – I was reading it when my husband came home. He took one look at the book’s title and said, “What are you reading that for?” I replied, “So I can figure out how we can stop using condoms.” His response? “Carry on then!”

This book blew my mind. After 30 years of being a woman, and 18 years of “being a woman,” I finally understood the ins and outs of how my body worked. It was empowering to know that I CAN have control of my fertility – not a little, nasty Pill. If I had been aware of this book earlier, I would have stopped taking the Pill years ago and saved myself a lot of frustration.

Interestingly enough, here’s what happened after I started charting my cycle – I realized I didn’t have one.

As soon as I stopped taking the Pill, my cycles were all over the place – anywhere from 45-65 days (which wasn’t normal for me before I started the Pill). I chalked it up to my body trying to adjust back to normal. But, after a year of irregular cycles and five months of charting, I suspected that I wasn’t ovulating. Since everything I had read says it takes up to six months for your body to adjust back after stopping the Pill, after a year of irregularity – and the charts to prove it – I knew something was up. I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to go to my doctor with my suspicions and with my “data” and for her to say, “You’re right. Something’s going on, let’s figure it out.”

So, I’ve had blood work done to rule out anything else (everything’s normal) and I’m on the Pill for a month to see if that sparks any estrogen production. If I start getting “normal” periods in a month or so and my charts start to change, then we’ll know it worked. If not, then it’s back to the doctor for additional testing. I’m also going to look into acupuncture as obviously, I’m hating how these synthetic hormones are affecting me, even for this short amount of time.

At this point, I’m not concerned at all since Chris and I are not actively trying to conceive. I very well could just need more time to adjust back. Who knows? I am just so thankful that I have this opportunity to figure it out before I want to get pregnant. If I hadn’t read this book and I discovered I wasn’t ovulating when I was trying to have a baby, I would be freaking out.

Why am I writing about this? I’m certainly not the first blogger to talk about the Pill or this book. But, as part of this healthy blogging community, it’s important to offer perspective and to share your side of the story. I know from experience as a blogger AND as a blog reader that there’s always someone out there who is in the same situation and knows what you’re going through, and there’s comfort in that.

My advice is if you’re a woman, you must READ THIS BOOK! Even a nun should read this book! If you’re a woman in a monogamous, supportive relationship who hates the Pill – this book may very well be your ticket to freedom. It was for me and so much more.

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38 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kim on April 28, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I’m so glad to hear someone else went through a similar pill story. I was happily on the pill for 4 years, but in the past 1 year or so it has been killing me. NO sex drive, bad period symptoms, acne– I have no idea what the deal is. I’ve been really wanting to go off the pill, but my partner and I really couldn’t afford to have a kid right now as we’re both finishing up grad school.

    I also hate hate hate the idea that I am so picky about the food that goes into my body– no hfcs, no foods with ingredients I can’t pronounce, yet daily I put these synthetic hormones into myself. Lately its really been bothering me. I need to read this book! You’re like, the 10 millionth person I’ve heard rave about it.

    Reply

  2. First, thanks for writing this post. You are doing all of your readers (except for that one guy) a huge service. I’ve NEVER been on the pill for many of the reasons which you discussed. It is so unnatural and bizarre to me to mess with this system of our body, yet it’s been done for decades like it’s no big deal.

    It sounds to me like you need to go on a tofu binge. Seriously, though, I hope you get some answers soon.

    Reply

  3. I have been debating about getting the book. I stopped using birth control two years ago, I was on Depo for 5 and boy did that ever mess me up. I am just now getting my cycle back in the last couple of months and they were my first periods in 7 years! I know women talk about hating their periods but when you don’t get it, something just does not feel right. Thanks for the review and good luck with your girly bits.

    Reply

    • I couldn’t agree more – having these long cycles is KILLING me. When I was on the Pill, I rarely got my period, so it was annoying at first to have to deal with it again. But now that I’m having these long cycles, it’s such a relief when I finally do get it – I definitely think there’s some renewing and cleansing that comes from “that time of the month.”

      Reply

  4. wow, thanks for the review! I actually just went off the pill about 6 months ago after being on it for almost 10 years thanks to horrible cramps and other issues.

    Thankfully, I haven’t seen any huge differences now than before I was on the Pill, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never go on it again. Adding this to my Amazon cart.

    Reply

  5. Thank you so much for this post, Andrea. I started to read that book last year and had to return it to the person I borrowed it from before I could finish it. I really need to buy it myself, because I too have been on the pill for years and REALLY want to get off it for various reasons. I’m scared though because my cycle has never been regular either, and I thought that to do the FAM method, you had to have a regular cycle. Are you still able to follow that method despite having an irregular cycle? It’s all so confusing, and we are definitely not ready for kids yet!

    Reply

    • I don’t know how far you got into the book, but there’s a whole section on irregular cycle patterns and what they mean. If you start charting, you just may be able to figure out why. In my case, having NO pattern (I’m talking no changes in temperature, dishcarge, etc.) is what led me to believe I wasn’t even ovulating.

      Reply

  6. That’s seriously interesting! I hate being on the pill, but Lord knows Mike and I are not ready for a child, so I stay on it – even though I HATE it! I really appreciated you going into some depth about your experience – now I gotta go find that book (although – I’m sure as soon as Mike see’s it, he is going to freak and think it’s about baby-making-RIGHT-NOW!)

    Reply

    • I would definitely start looking into other forms of non-hormonal birth control if you hate the Pill that much. I seriously considered an IUD, but since we may start trying as soon as next year, it seemed too permanent a solution. I was *this close* to getting fitted for a diaphragm before I started reading this book. Now that I’m charting, we just use condoms if I even think I could be ovulating – yeah, it’s not ideal, but we’re both way happier now that I’m off the Pill.

      Reply

  7. I REALLY need to get this book. I’m not able to be on the pill because it makes me go crazy, literally. I get really depressed so no pill for me. Using condoms when married is not something I thought I would be doing and it’s not something I want to do. I’m going to trek down to Barnes and Nobles and see if they have a copy.

    Thanks for bringing the book to my attention! I’m sure my husband will thank you too;)

    Reply

  8. I could have written this post. Almost word for word. Just, less funny and insightful.

    Same experience. Almost the same outcome. We should gchat. That sounds dirty.

    Reply

  9. I am so glad you posted about this! Yesterday, I posted a little bit about my struggles with PCOS. I didn’t get my period for months and months. I wasn’t pregnant so I knew something was up. My doctor has me on hormonal birth control (which I hate because it covers up the “real” issue.)

    My husband and I want to start trying for a baby in a year or so. This book might be just what I’ve been looking for. I should also think about charting too.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Karley on April 28, 2010 at 11:12 am

    McLurker here. Although I’ve never commented, I do love the blog. Thank you SO stinkin’ much for this post. I’ll go to my local library and see if they have the book. My husband and I weren’t digging the condoms too much, so I went back on the pill after a multiple year break. You know what? It blows. Even though I’m not having any bad side effects, I just don’t feel comfortable putting synthetic hormones in my body. It’s nice to know other women are feeling the same way and have the same concerns.

    Reply

  11. Ooh I can’t wait to read it! I was on the pill for almost 7 years and I hated them. I got to the point where I got terrible migraines every time it was sugar pill week. I’m actually having and IUD inserted tomorrow to see how that goes.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Hope Has A Place on April 28, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Hey! Thanks for sharing this. I haven’t even heard of the book, although I have heard of “natural birth control.” Too be honest, it sounded unreliable and a little unquestionable. Your review changes my mind, though! I’m interested to learn more. Also, best wishes with your doctor’s appointment and testing. I hope that all goes well for you.

    PS I enjoyed your pictures from the last post! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Reply

  13. The only two birth control methods I’ve ever used were the patch and (now) NuvaRing. I seriously love NuvaRing, as I’ve never had any side effects. I’d take the big boobs though! But it does bother me that I have to rely on it so much. I’m actually on my last ring right now and am planning on going off it next month. Hopefully everything returns to normal. Thanks for the recommendation for this book, I’ll definitely check it out.

    Reply

  14. Thank you Andrea for this post. I know that women’s reproductive health can be a personal issue, but it is one that 1/2 of the population will deal with at some point. I have never liked being on the pill and different ones affected me differently. It is so important that us women education ourselves about what works best for our bodies instead of going with whatever birth control pill is advertised in this month’s magazine. Thank you for bringing this book to our attention. Need to check it out!

    Reply

  15. Sounds like an interesting book. I have to admit I’m a bit of a pussy (not trying to be punny, just came out that way ๐Ÿ™‚ ) so I blush at the thought of just reading this. I’m with you. I HATE the pill. I took it for the 4 years I dated my bf, but now that I am single again I refuse to take it.

    Reply

  16. dude, i so own that book.

    i’m tolerating the crazy pants that is the pill for a few more months till i’ve got health insurance…
    ’cause babies are one damn expensive std

    also, did you notice the part where it says your cervix feels like the tip of your nose? i told josh that.
    he now pokes my nose and says “that’s what your cervix feels like!” all the time.
    awesome.

    Reply

  17. Andrea,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that this month of the Pill does its job and jump starts your cycle again.

    I stopped the pill in December, and I have never felt better. I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility and I loved it. I too feel like I finally know my body. I have an iPhone and use the FemCal application for charting- do you know about that app? It is incredible- the same thing as a paper chart but it does all the work for you.

    One part doctors either don’t know or won’t talk about are the withdrawal symptoms after stopping the Pill. I wish I had known that from the start- everyone should know what it does and know that it can cover up any potential problems!

    I have shared the FAM with all of my (married) friends and I hope they all try it asap. It is amazing.

    To end this novel, I hope everything works out and will be thinking of you. Thank you again for sharing!

    Reply

  18. Thank you so much for this post. i have been thinking of going off the pill and need to get this post. i’ve just been afraid because of my weight and because before the pill, my period pain was absolutely debilitating (ie I couldn’t go to school or work)

    Reply

  19. Posted by Sara on April 28, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    This book CHANGED MY LIFE! I have at least a dozen friends who all read it, swear by it, and those who have wanted to get pregnant are pregnant. My husband and I use this method (not actively trying to conceive) and I really believe in it.
    We like to think of the condoms as upping foreplay, but maybe that’s just us desperately trying to put a positive spin on it…it kind of makes us feel like we’re in college or something! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Anyhoo, this book is empowering, enlightening, and should – quite frankly – be required reading for the ladies!
    Thanks for sharing it – you rock…and you know what else rocks? Losing the five pounds, the acne, and the distinct feeling that something has control over your body! Way to go, girl!

    Reply

  20. Wait so you were getting your period, but not regularly so that meant you weren’t ovulating? Or you weren’t getting a period at all?

    I am dealing w/ these issues myself and it’s really crappy. I was so sad to have to go on the pill in October and so happy to decide I was stopping at the end of the December. It was like I said hello to myself again. Oh god that was so cheesy.

    Reply

  21. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, we have been off the pill too for a while now and still have no periods. We know it will take some time for our bodies to get back to normal after being on the pill for 10 years. But I am glad to hear your test came back normal, and hopefully you will get some answers.

    Reply

  22. I went OFF the Pill in 2008 for a reason that most people go on it – terrible, terrible cramps. I even had an endoscopy to figure out if I had food allergies, but everything was inconclusive. I went off the Pill and they all went away, minus one or two days a month now where I get actual, REAL PMS – and I never thought I’d be so happy to say that. Funny how that works. {I despise medication and am not afraid to admit it!}

    It’s now 2010 and I finally feel like I have a general monthly cycle – I was definitely all over the place for a while. Funny I should read this post today after I took a trip to the gyno to discuss options that don’t pass through the GI tract. Perhaps now I will have to pick up a copy of this book instead ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks, Andrea and Gina!

    Reply

  23. Posted by Caitlin on April 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    The same thing happened to me. I was so tired of taking the pill and the synthetic hormones so I stopped and noticed my cycles were all over the place. After a year and a half of charting I went to the doctor and they told me to try various things to check if was ovulating. We weren’t trying to conceive but wanted to soon. Well I was even with my 35-55 day cycles and now just about a year and a half since I’ve been off the pill, my husband and I are expecting our first child!

    Reply

  24. Posted by leah on April 29, 2010 at 5:29 am

    hey andrea, i read follow your blog and i just read this post and wanted to say that i didn’t get my period for about 2 years because i wasn’t ovulating. i was traveling at the time and saw doctors in a variety of countries across the globe. one of them put me on the pill to start my period. which it did, but that wasn’t really my period, just some hormone induced imposter. it also made it impossible to take all the tests necessary for this kind of situation because there were so many hormones in my body that weren’t really mine. i finally saw a fantastic doctor in thailand who took me off the pill, ran all of the proper tests and when they all came back fine said i simply wasn’t ovulating and therefore not getting my period. she said that about 30% of women stop ovulating at some point in their life. it’s totally normal and usually related to stress. i put all kinds of energy and focus on getting my body back on track and finally i did. now i get my period pretty regularly, except when i am traveling or in times of high stress.

    anyway, thought that might be helpful. perhaps adjusting your lifestyle and stress levels could help regulate your period.

    good luck figuring it all out.
    ๐Ÿ™‚
    leah

    Reply

  25. I hated being on the pill but I won’t go into all the reasons here because it’s long and really, probably no one cares that much about my system. Ha! I finally got off of it and it’s been a god send.

    However I’m not going to be too negative on the pill either. Without the pill women would be in a very serious way right now that would not be to their benefit. The pill revolutionized birth control and women finally being able to take charge of their reproduction systems. It also helps a lot of people who suffer from very seriously stressful periods to better manage them.

    I do agree that putting fake hormones into your body like that cannot be good as a long term practice and that it can mess with your system a great deal. I’m just not willing to curse them and dismiss them because they can be so helpful to so many.

    Reply

  26. This is fantastic. I’m on the pill and have been for (gosh this is hard to admit) almost 13 years! I’ve had issues in the past with illnesses where I’ve lost so much weight that they put me back on the pill to get my period. I’ve always been so afraid that I’ve lost my fertility.

    Funny thing: My younger brother (younger by 14 years) once decided when he was going to read my palm when he was 8 years old. The one thing I remember him saying: You’ll never have kids. I’ve always hoped he’d be wrong!

    Perhaps I should read this book!

    Reply

  27. Great post, girl!
    Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚
    Brazilian XOXOยดs,
    Gabriela

    Reply

  28. Posted by Ann on April 29, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    The next book anyone should run to if you have cycle irregularities is Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon. Self-help ideas for healthier fertility cycles.

    Reply

  29. Thanks for writing this. This is a topic that I wish I knew more about. I’m on the pill and my mood swings are like clockwork. I hate the pill. I felt much better when I wasn’t on it, but I don’t feel like there’s a lot of other options out there. I’ll have to check out that book.

    Reply

  30. Posted by Katherine: What About Summer? on April 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    10th anniversary edition! wow who would’ve thought.

    Thank you for posting about fertility. Even in my early twenties, it is a concern of mine and I think it’s empowering to have other people talk about it. I feel embarrassed that it may be an issue for me, but with posts like yours, I am not ashamed.

    Thanks again

    Reply

  31. First, thanks for the honesty. Secondly, you are so right, good to find this out NOW not when you’re TTC. trying to conceive) Know plenty of mom friends who went off pill, no period, lost 6-18 mos in TTC process just trying to get their period back. As for acupuncture, it works. Wonderfully. For hormonal and female issues. I have plenty of stories but not for here, but yes, DO IT! And i have read the book about 4-5 yrs ago and yea a gem of a book!

    Reply

  32. Thanks for writing about this. I went off the pill almost 3 months ago and no period yet. We’re TTC so it’s incredibly frustrating. Prior to going on the pill 7 years ago my cycles were like clockwork so I’m not sure if it’s due to the pill stuffing up my natural hormone production or just me getting older – I’m 30 tomorrow. At the moment all I can really do it wait… Very frustrating.

    Reply

  33. Posted by gina (fitnessista) on April 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    hey lady! just now catching up on your lovely blog- thank you for the shout out and i’m so happy you liked the book as much as i did. i learned more in the two days reading that book about womanly functions than i had learned my entire life. you already know my thoughts on the pill, but i have to reiterate the fact that going off the pill was a great decision.
    have a great weekend and thank you for sharing this post and that awesome book with your readers โค
    xoxo

    Reply

  34. Thank you so much for recommending this book. I went around reading more about it on the interwebs and ended up getting it on Amazon. I reallyreallyreally would like to stop taking the Pill. As lovely as it is at preventing pregnancy, it’s really effing up my cycle (I had to change pills recently because the one I’d taken for years was messing me up in all kinds of fun ways). Oh, and hi! I’ve been following you for a bit. Love your blog. Nice swapping menstrual stories with you, stranger. :p

    Reply

  35. Posted by homegirlcaneat on May 10, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I have only had the WORST experiences with the pill. Of course there are women who take it (and have been taking it for years) with positive stories about it, but for me, it was just turrible. I lost my period for 2 years and then the gyno recommended me to take Yaz when I was 16 to get the flow back. For the three weeks before I started menstruating, I was bloated, constipated, would not fall to sleep until 3am. I successfully got my period for the first time in years, but went off the pill right after that first cycle. I had problems getting my period for two more years and would never know when I was going to get it. I stopped eating meat and two months later, my period was regular again. With a healthy body weight and not taking in foreign hormones, my body finally got back on track. I started a different birth control in September for the purpose of not being a teenage mother, and had TURRIIIBBLLLE results again. Acne, bloating, gross, gross, gross. Immediately stopped and just use other contraceptives to make sure I don’t have no BABIES. Also, a couple months ago we had a wellness doctor come to talk to my sorority and she was INCREDIBLE. She talked ALL about the long-term effects of taking birth control that included becoming infertile, damaging internal organs, etc, etc. She was AWESOME. Of course, other girls/my friends my age put up a huge argument that birth control has been known as a cancer preventer and other reasons about beating teenage pregnancy, but really, they just don’t obsessively know about nutrients, organic sh!t, and other stuff bloggers are knowledgeable about.

    Reply

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